Hucknall Town manager said the broken leg suffered by skipper Joe Atkinson in probably his last game for the club on Saturday was an awful way to end the season.
Atkinson, 36, who is in the process of moving house and getting married, had said he was retiring after the game, though just before kick-off hinted he may do another season.
However, he now faces a lengthy spell on crutches and the club are devastated to see such a good servant’s career end this way.
“It was a horrible injury,” said manager Andy Graves. “It’s a shame Joe got such a serious injury when he did as he was just toying whether to give it another season.
“We’d just had a chat the week before and he came to the game on Saturday and said before kick-off he’d had a chat with his partner.
“I said if you want to give it another season, let’s get today’s game out the way and take it from there.
“We were going to make a presentation to him after the game but Joe said – hold off. Let’s get today out the way and discuss whether to give it another season or not.
“But I think everything has now been taken well and truly out of our hands as it was pretty nasty. It was a clean break through the shin bone.”
Caught late by an opponent, Atkinson gave an audible cry and stayed with everyone knowing immediately it was a bad injury.
He was eventually stretchered off the field and Graves said: “I am not going to comment on the tackle.
“The referee’s assessor said he got it totally wrong.
“The referee gave a yellow card so you can make your own mind up on that. I thought the referee was poor all game for both sides to be honest.
“But, even if he’d sent the guy off, it wouldn’t make Joe’s leg any better. It wasn’t particularly nice and we knew immediately something was seriously wrong.”
Sadly for Atkinson, things have gone far from smoothly with the injury.
“He is now having a bit of a torrid time in hospital,” said Graves.
“He was admitted Saturday night and had two lots of X-rays, the last lot about two in the morning.
“They said they were going to keep him in and operate Sunday morning. But they then decided to keep things as they were aligned and didn’t operate.
“We went to see him Sunday night and he was in a lot of pain.
“They were then going to plaster it full length on the Monday. Unfortunately it took two attempts with gas and air.
“It put him back a couple of day. I rang him and he said he’d had a bad night on Monday with his heel.
“There was a problem, so they had to cut the plaster off the heel and he’d got signs of an infection.
“He is now under the pain management nurse to try to get the pain under control. He can’t leave until he can get on crutches.”
The timing of the injury could not have been any worse for the player.
Graves said: “He’s a bit down, which is understandable. It’s a good three months work before he can think about putting weight on it which isn’t good.
“He’s just signed for his new house and he gets married in August.
“He is 36, so it’s a bad one and puts all this stupid stuff you read about the club on social media into perspective.
“He deserves whatever people think we do pay our players.
“Every game he’s been a fantastic captain for me. We will continue to look after him.
“First thing is to make sure he heals properly – we don’t want any complications.
“We will probably talk about a role in the club for him in the future. We didn’t get to have our final chat so we will see what happens.”